A Mormon Image: The 19th Ward Chapel

December 5, 2003 | 4 comments
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When Brigham Young laid out Great Salt Lake City in the 1840s, he modeled it on the Mormon experience in Nuavoo. Thus, the city was divided into wards, which were combined to form the original Salt Lake Stake of Zion. In all there were nineteen of these wards, and they continued to be the core units of the Church in Salt Lake for many, many years. This chapel, built in 1890, housed one of those original wards.

The chapel itself has an oddly Russian or Austrian feel with the onion dome. The building on the immediate left was constructed in 1908 and was originally a Relief Society Building, back when the Relief Society was an independent organization with its own buildings. The Relief Soceity building was originally built elsewhere and moved to its current location.

Chapel construction is now centralized and standardized through Church headquarters, largely as a way of controlling costs and insuring that poor congregations have buildings and wealthy congregations do not lavish excess funds on themselves. However, before this economic and egalatarian model took over Church construction, we had a great deal of diversity in our chapels.

This building is no longer owned by the Church and now houses a community theater troup. It is protected as a historic landmark. It is locate at 168 West 500 North in Salt Lake City, Utah, just around the corner from where my mother lived when I was in high school.

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4 Responses to A Mormon Image: The 19th Ward Chapel

  1. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2003 at 6:33 pm

    Is that an onion dome?!?

  2. anon on May 13, 2005 at 4:02 pm
  3. Jonathan Green on May 13, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    Anon, thank you for your comment. It’s unbeatable for its terseness, but it very concisely expresses your feelings, I’m sure. Best of all, I followed your comment to the lovely picture of the very interesting former ward building above, which is well worth a click.

  4. Larry Platt on February 10, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Is (was?) the 18th Ward building nearby? The 18th was my dad’s ward in the 1920s and 1930s. He grew up on N. State St., a stone’s throw from the Lion House. His grandmother was one of Brigham Young’s daughters (Maria Young Dougall). But, alas, as the Irish say, “he married a Papist, and never had a day’s luck since.” Yet even though he left the LDS church ca. 1938 and swore to raise his kids Catholic, he and my grandfather snuck me into the 18th and had me blessed (1942); just keeping all his options open, I suppose. So on my next trip north to Zion, I’d like to find the 18th. Or what’s left of it. Or where it used to be.

    Can anyone give me directions?

    Just wondering.

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